Thursday, August 11, 2011

The spirit of the Blitz - god, how I hate the spirit of the Blitz

I admit I was initially rather taken with the idea of #riotcleanup.  The spectacle of dozens of people gathering in town centres to help clear up the debris seemed to be an attempt to find a response to the riots that wasn't merely trapped in the policing vocabulary.  And it was being pushed on Twitter by nice folks, left-liberals, people who you would trust on this sort of thing.  Yet before long it started to resemble something like submerged vigilantism - from the 'looters are scum' tops to the Blitz references to the piffle about 'taking pride in our communities' when it's patently obvious that these riots are happening because 'our communities' are going to the dogs.  Luckily, the University of Strategic Optimism has patiently and carefully anatomised what's wrong with the whole thing:

It’s going to take more than posturing, ‘blitz-spirit’, keep-calm-and-carry-on clap-trap and colonial Kipling-esque “keeping your head” to fix this mess. The strikingly middle-class, broadly white efforts to sweep issues of inequality under the carpet of a simulated big-society photo-op has been a telling, if little discussed, aspect of the recent rioting, making little headway in the scramble of blogposts and tweets attempting hasty analyses of the unfolding turmoil. This doughty bunch of volunteer cleaners, the substitution for a non-existent community, appeared right on cue to fill the media narrative all day following a night of London’s most extensive social unrest in decades. Even Mayor Boris had leisurely returned from holiday to be snapped with the broom-wielding bourgeoisie of Clapham as they amassed for a bit of symbolic social cleansing.